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Other-Ranks Combat Waistbelts
By Eric Tobey, revised by Jonathan Bocek

The following was taken from the Die Neue Feldpost newsletter & was done so with permission of the publisher.  We would like to thank him for his generosity as well as thank all those who have contributed to this article.  It is with their efforts, we are able to share this valuable research with the rest of you.

Almost as much a piece of insignia as a piece of equipment, the waist belt was an integral part of a German soldier's kit.  Worn with almost every order of uniform, the Landser was rarely without it.

At the beginning of the war, the basic belt was made of 4mm thick leather, 45mm wide, rough side out and dyed black.  The end which would be held in the left hand when buckling was turned inward for 75mm and sewn down to hold the belt hook which was made of steel or aluminum.  A 21cm long tongue was sewn into the right-hand end, and this piece was punched with seven pairs of holes to hold the prongs in the buckle.  This style of belt is illustrated in Figure B.  The belt's size in centimeters is stamped into the buckle end of the belt, and some belts can be seen which bear two size stamps because they were made smaller.

Some construction details are also worth noting.  As with most German leather equipment, the belts were assembled from pre-dyed leather.  All stitching was done in heavy white thread, so that there is a marked contrast between the white stitching and the black leather in a new belt.  Stitching was left white because the Germans felt that dying the thread would weaken it.  After a few polishings, the stitching turned dark anyhow.

Sometime in 1942 or 1943, the buckle-mounting tongue was eliminated, perhaps to simplify construction, save material, or both.  The buckle-prong holes were reduced in number from seven pair to five pair and were punched directly through the body of the belt.  The earliest belt of this construction examined for this study is marked "1/1200/0169  1943".  The first nine digits are called an "RB" number and is the manufacturer's coded ID.  This style of belt is illustrated in figure A.

There are two different styles of belt hook on these waist belts.  The earlier of the two is stamped from steel or aluminum and is shown in illustration D.  Note the re-enforcing ridges.  The later type is stamped of steel in the manner shown in Figure E.  There was a period overlap for the use of the two types of hooks in the middle of the war, so that both styles of hooks can be found on either type of belt.

Realizing that leather gear is not ideal for use in arid climates, the Germans produced a cotton webbing version of the waist belt, initially for use with their Afrika Korps, but which was eventually used to some extent in almost every theater.  This belt followed the general construction of the Figure A style belt, except that the belt and tongue were made of green (for the Army) cotton webbing, and with stitched eyelets in the tongue.

A later-war hybrid was made with a webbing body and leather tongue.  The webbing used in these belts was dyed a slightly different color than the earlier all-web "tropical" belt: these continental belts are usually a tan or mustard color.  We examined one of these belts which was marked "Uscha. Dittmann" under the leather tongue.

One interesting note on these web belts: web belts were prescribed as standard issue for snipers because the webbing would not shine in the bright sun as the leather ones did.

In the final half-year of the war, the Germans produced a variety of "last-ditch" belts.  Ersatz belts were made from pressed-paper composites primarily for use with non-military organizations, but which also found their way into the Armed Forces.  Another type of late belt is shown in Figure C.  This belt is made from folded layers of canvas, stitched together around the circumference of the belt.  The ends are re-enforced in thin black leather and the eyelets are small metal grommets.  There is a small cloth size tag (marked "100") sewn under the leather re-enforcement at the end of the tongue.  The color of this belt is a pale greenish-tan.  There is no other legible markings.



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